Daniels ducks GOP

dance; Rupert enters the 2012 fray

In May, Gov.

Mitch Daniels

spurned his suitors and snubbed the opportunity to make a run

for the nation's highest office. Perhaps it was a hard decision, but now

Daniels is probably relieved not to have to associate with the current circus

as his grand old party colleagues unleash the

desperate effort to garner the Republican nomination for president. Their

counterparts within the Indiana

General Assembly

and the state's regulatory network, however, probably have

enough cooked up to keep him busy until his term in complete.

Meanwhile, beloved local personality Rupert

Boneham

, an advocate for disadvantaged youth and

a star from the reality TV show "Survivor," entered the 2012 governor's

race as a Libertarian. Republicans currently jockeying for position include Congressman

Mike Pence

and former Hamilton County Councilman Jim Wallace. Democrats

squaring off for the party nod include former Indiana

House Speaker John Gregg

and landscaping contractor Thomas Lenfert.

The Indiana Democratic Party has also spent much of the year

sending out missives nearly every day aimed at undercutting support for U.S.

Sen. Dick Lugar

, the Republican who, as Indiana's longest-serving member of

Congress, was first elected to the Senate in 1976. If the Dems can help Mr. Tea

Party Richard Mourdock unseat Lugar in May's primary, their chances of stealing

the seat increase.

The rancor of the attacks has faded in recent days, however,

as the state Democratic party congratulated Lugar for

voting to pass a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut. The love did not

extend to Pence and his Republican counterparts in the U.S. House for blocking

the tax-cut extension. The wonders of Washington did pull through at the last

minute, however, and on Dec. 23 the House agreed to the extension.

Legislators gone wild

Rep.

Phil Hinkle

might support a constitutional ban against gay marriage, but

apparently Craigslist paid hook-ups with 18-year-old dudes are perfectly

acceptable in his book.

In August, the prominent 64-year-old conservative lawmaker

— "an in-shape married professional ... (who loves) getting and

staying naked," according to an email he wrote to the young man —

answered a Craigslist ad posted by Kameryn Gibson and offered him $80 "for

services rendered and if real satisfied, a healthy tip."

Things allegedly fell apart after Gibson discovered who

Hinkle was. Gibson alleges he attempted to leave the downtown Marriott hotel

room, but Hinkle stopped him. At that point, Gibson called his sister, who

threatened to go to the police and the media. Hinkle called the incident a

shakedown, claiming Gibson stole his BlackBerry,

an iPad and $100. Gibson and his sister allege Hinkle gave the electronic

devices and cash to them to keep the incident quiet.

Hinkle denies he's gay, but couldn't say why he set up the

attempted tryst in the first place. As with every politician who has been

caught with his pants down, Hinkle told reporters he was seeking "professional

help" to understand why he did what he did — namely answer a

homosexual casual encounters ad seeking a "suga

daddy," send multiple emails to the ad's teenage author, pick him up and

take him to a hotel room, and allegedly expose himself.

Hinkle has refused calls for him to resign, but won't seek

reelection in 2012.

In February, 70 members of the

Indiana House of Representatives — including Hinkle — voted to

amend the state constitution to ban

gay marriage

. The state senate approved the same measure the following

month. The ban will come before the two houses again in 2013, and if it passes

a second time, will go to Hoosier voters.

A few months later, the closet became too claustrophobic for

yet another lawmaker.

Former Indiana State

Rep. Brian Hasler

, D-Evansville, who thought he

had made a $160 deal for sex with a male prostitute, actually had landed a date

with Sgt. Jon Daggy of IMPD's vice unit. Instead of

escorting Hasler upstairs to a hotel room at the Omni, Daggy escorted him to

jail.

Perhaps Hinkle and Hasler can console each other. Too bad

the state's so hell bent on undermining gay marriage:

Hinkle-Hasler has a nice ring to it.

The Fights of Charlie

White

Indiana's top election official was charged with multiple

counts of voter fraud in March, but instead of resigning, Secretary

of State Charlie White

came out swinging. And over the next nine months,

White's family, his predecessor Todd

Rokita

, former Sen. Evan

Bayh

and a host of others were all pulled into

the melee.

White, who defeated Democrat Vop Osili in the 2010 general

election, was charged with seven felonies, including voter fraud and theft.

Prosecutors allege that while White served on the Fishers Town Council, he was

living outside his district in a condo he purchased with his then-fianc´e, now

wife, Michelle Quigley-White. White claims he was living within his district

— in his ex-wife's home — at the time.

White is battling on several fronts — besides the

criminal charges in Hamilton County, Democrats filed a complaint with the state

election board, claiming he wasn't eligible for the 2010 election. After the bipartisan

board sided with White, Democrats filed suit in Marion County. Marion Circuit

Court Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled last Wednesday that White was not legally

registered to vote at the time he filed his candidacy and therefore was

ineligible to be on the ballot. Indiana

Attorney General Greg Zoeller

appealed the

decision on behalf of the recount commission. The Indiana

Supreme Court

is expected to weigh in soon.

White has also battled his own party, including Daniels, who

suggested White step aside leading up to his January 2012 criminal trial, and Rokita, whom White criticized as a self-promoter.

Special prosecutors John Dowd and Dan Sigler sought similar

voter fraud charges against Quigley-White, but White leveled similar

accusations of his own, against Sigler and other prominent public figures,

including former Sen. Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan.

The respective county prosecutors declined to file charges or appoint their own

special prosecutor.

White's mother threatened to file suit against Hamilton

County, saying she was verbally abused by Sigler and his son

during White's grand jury hearing.

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